The fastest download ever has hit the Wii U. I’m not joking, the Future Pack DLC for FAST Racing NEO clocks in at 13mb on the eShop, then somehow turns into a 2mb download on the HOME menu, then installs itself before you can even read the track list. What’s happening? Too late, we’re off.
New Zendling is one of 8 brand new tracks and looks absolutely stunning with gigantic city buildings, public transport and a big blue sky. Within seconds your stomach gets heavy as the track descents rapidly into the metropolis. You gradually accelerate to 660mph as buildings whiz past on the sides. Before you’ve even remembered the controls, the track is morphing and twisting. Buildings are now upside-down and you’re wondering if this is a dream or an awesome game.
I’ve been playing this for the past few days and the new DLC tracks are absolutely amazing. It’s the first time I’ve played the game in a while and it feels completely fresh and exciting again, in all modes. The new tracks come with a very unique style and strong emphasis on speed. Almost none of them have sharp corners, but they are full of hazards and personality.
Kuiper Belt is a course where actual fireballs shoot onto the track from the sun. It makes you wonder how many people died constructing these tracks with enormous temperatures and random projectiles. Maybe they built them on Earth and launched them into space. Maybe the tracks formed by themselves from random debris landing in the perfect place. Maybe I am thinking too hard about this. There are so many visual effects lingering in the air on this track, it’s impossible to even capture in a screenshot. Some kind of crystal substance lingers inside one of the tunnels, I’m not sure what it is but it looks amazing and mysterious as it falls off asteroid debris. At Hypersonic speed it’s just a rainbow of colour in some places.
Track hazards in other new courses include purple death rays switching on and off, and gigantic fans that can blow you off the track. The fans aren’t a big deal at the slowest speed, Subsonic, but at Hypersonic you need a lot of precision to stay on the track. It’s terrifying when you’re AIMING your vehicle off the track to fight the fan’s power. Other new tracks also include Iceland, a fully rotational cylinder (like Fire Field in F-Zero GX), Antarctica with bumpy jumps over icy water, and Pyramid Valley with sand rocketing you up platforms as you circle a giant pyramid.
A lot has changed in FAST since the latest patch, it seems. Since my launch review, online play has become perfectly stable and I managed to play dozens of races for hours without a single problem. It’s a lot of fun and very competitive. The community for this game isn’t gigantic, but I managed to find 2 to 6 people each time I searched. I raced skilled players from Germany, Canada, UK, Japan, USA and France and everyone won on different tracks. The patch has also fixed any cheating exploits from going out-of-bounds, so it was pure racing. All the races I won were simply from not making any mistakes and keeping control of high speeds. Absolutely thrilling. Since you don’t get time gaps each lap, I recommend turning on the mini-map just to see other player’s positions as dots. My only other issue is that I always end up in a Subsonic speed group, despite searching for Hypersonic. I guess there just isn’t enough players and it puts you in the next best category.
A huge part of the Future Pack DLC took me completely by surprise, and that’s the music. Not only is there new music in all 8 new race courses, but all 10 vehicles now have their own theme songs. Much like F-Zero GX had unique character songs that only played during their profiles, Shin’en have created masterful compositions to give the vehicles a bit of personality. There’s some insane arrangements, all very complex with heavy layers of electronics and even a few vocals thrown in. I don’t even know what genre to call it, Space Techno? Some of it sounded like crap on my tin-speaker TV to be honest (using a temp setup at the moment), but then it sounded amazing when I put headphones on. It’s just very busy music to compliment the detailed artwork of the vehicles. I sat and listened to every song and loved the effort they put in. It would have been awesome to read a little bit of lore about the companies, vehicles or tracks, but that’s just my imagination getting carried away. I loved reading character’s insane back-stories in F-Zero, and I wish more racing games had that kind of personality.
The music in the new tracks does a good job creating that “new” feeling, much like the freshness that Mario Kart 8’s DLC brought. Mori Park in particular has a song that I can only describe as Donkey Kong Country jungle dubstep. A strong simple ambient melody that pierces through the fast rhythm to slow down time. It dominates the atmosphere of the track as you boost over puddles and splash water onto the trees.
FAST Racing NEO is an absolutely amazing game that just got better. I did this writeup to talk about the new DLC and changes, but you can find an explanation of the gameplay in my initial review. Short version, the controls are perfect and the gameplay is fast. Since launch I have grown to love Hypersonic speed a lot more too, it just takes practice. I’ve also learned how to control the top-speed heavy beasts. They are pretty much essential in the low speed class which constantly shows up online.
Aside from the $7.50 AU DLC download, it has also got a retail release with all tracks included. I’m so glad this game has done well, being an Indie game in a neglected genre it almost seemed impossible. Sales have been good and almost 100,000 people have beaten the first championship according to the game’s graphs.
There is one catch to this experience, however. You can’t ever stop playing FAST or the new tracks will disappear. HAHAHAHAHA!
Okay, there is one temporary solution. If your tracks disappear, you can bring them back by going to the “Shop” icon in the main menu and then exiting out. Boom, fixed. It doesn’t take too long but it means you need internet access every time you play the new tracks. Shin’en themselves have acknowledged the problem, so a patch will hopefully arrive soon. I’ll update this last paragraph whenever it’s out. Apart from that, this game feels amazing to play and I hope to see you racing online and exploding into the sun.